Dobermans have a reputation as menacing security dogs, but that doesn't mean they don't have a soft spot for their two-legged pals. Learn more about the second best guard dog in the world.
1. THEY’RE A FAIRLY NEW BREED.
Unlike some dogs that have been hanging around since ancient times, Dobermans are newer to the scene. The breed originated in Germany and began to take form in the early 1880s, making it less than 150 years old.
2. THEY WERE FIRST BRED BY A TAX COLLECTOR.
Herr Karl Louis Dobermann was a man with many jobs: He was a tax collector, who would sometimes work as a police officer, night guard, and dog catcher. Because of his career, Dobermann often found himself traveling with bags of money through dangerous parts of town at late hours; it left him feeling uneasy. With his access to the pound, breeding a canine bodyguard to keep him—and his money—safe seemed like a natural decision. He wanted a medium sized dog that was refined but intimidating. The resulting dog is lean and muscular with dark fur and brown markings.
3. A LOT OF DOGS WENT INTO THE PROCESS.
Dobermann did not take a lot of notes on his breeding process, so no one is exactly sure what breeds went into making the Doberman pinscher. However, some possible dogs believed to be in the mix include the Rottweiler, German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner, Manchester Terrier, Beauceron, Great Dane, Black and Tan Terrier, and Greyhound.
4. EAR AND TAIL DOCKING SERVED A PURPOSE.
Since these dogs were bred to be personal guards, they needed to be ready to engage in fights. Some owners would remove weak spots, the tail and ears which can be pulled or torn, to avoid potential altercations. Today, most Dobermans are no longer used for fighting purposes, but there are some health concerns to consider. Doberman tails are very thin and sensitive, and can break a lot easier than other dogs'. Additionally, floppy ears prevent air from easily flowing into the ear canals and can cause ear infections. Some owners will dock these appendages simply to avoid future injuries. But many see this process as cruel and unnecessary, and certain countries, included Australia and the U.K., have even banned the practice.
5. NO JOB IS TOO BIG FOR THESE DOGS.
Dobermans are extremely athletic and intelligent dogs, so no task is out of their league. (And that includes the job of lap dog, even if you’re less enthused about it.) Dobies have been used for a variety of jobs and sports including police work, scent tracking, coursing, diving, search and rescue, therapy, and guiding the blind.
6. THEY CAN BE MOVIE STARS.
The ‘70s had their share of hokey films, but 1972’s The Doberman Gang takes campy to the next level. The movie, as the trailer’s voiceover explains, is about "six savage Dobies with a thirst for cold cash that leaves banks bone dry.” The dogs are all named after famous bank robbers: Dillinger, Bonnie, Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Ma Barker. Using their persuasive barks and growls, these trained dogs manage to make off with heaps of money. If that concept seems silly to you, consider the fact that there were two sequels and talk of a remake as recently as 2010.
7. AND WAR HEROES.
Kurt the Doberman was the first canine casuality in the 1944 Battle of Guam during WWII. He went ahead of the troops and warned them of the approaching Japanese soldiers. Although an enemy grenade killed the brave dog, many soldiers were saved from the same fate because of his bravery. Kurt became the first of 25 war dogs to be buried in what is now known as the United States Marine Corps War Dog Cemetery on Guam.
A memorial featuring a bronze statue of Kurt has been erected in the cemetery, with the names of the 24 other dogs inscribed on the side. Artist Susan Bahary was asked to create it.
“To me, this is more subject, more about love, even though it is a war monument,” she said. “I hope that people can take a piece of love back when they see that piece. That they’ll feel the love we had for the dogs and that the dogs had for us.”
8. THEY’RE SMART.
9. THERE HAVE BEEN DOBERMAN DRILL TEAMS.
The first of many Doberman Drill Teams, started by Tess Henseler, performed at the 1959 Westminster KC dog show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The groups performed at various celebrations and sporting events and showcased the dogs’ intelligence and superior agility. Later, Rosalie Alvarez formed her own team that toured for 30 years.
10. BREEDING IS MAKING THEM MORE GENTLE.
Since Dobermans are transitioning from guard dogs to loving companions, breeders are moving them away from aggressive qualities. Although Dobies have a softer personality today, all dogs are different and a lot of their temperament is dependent on proper training. These dogs can be great with families and children, but only when correctly trained and socialized.